Mellon Foundation Grants F&M $440,000

F&M is launching initiatives that will strengthen the College’s interdisciplinary program in environmental studies, thanks to a $440,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

The grant will enable the College to create the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Ethics to provide stipends for 12 students to conduct supervised research on ethical and policy issues in Lancaster
County; to launch a visiting scholars program focused on environmental ethics issues; and to offer a faculty reading group in environmental studies. 

Together, these initiatives will enhance the College’s efforts to strengthen the Environmental Studies curriculum by enriching its humanities content and by making study of the environment a College-wide priority.

“This was the right proposal at the right time,” said Provost Ann Steiner, “and it unites two of the enduring goals of a liberal arts education: to help students develop the capacity to make ethical judgments and to help them understand all aspects of human experience, and in particular the complex relationship between human beings and nature.”

The Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Ethics is a major component of the grant. It will support two postdoctoral fellows, who will be appointed in the Department of Philosophy. 

“The College’s Earth & Environment and Philosophy Departments are exceptionally strong, with top-notch teachers and scholars,” Steiner said. “Our new environmental ethics initiatives rely on the individual strengths of the two departments and build on their history of success at the interface of their respective disciplines.”

As environmental issues have become more urgent, the field of environmental ethics has also gained momentum, according to Stephan Käufer, associate professor of philosophy. The aim is to understand the philosophical issues and to explain how ethical theories and concepts come to bear on scientific, legal, political and social questions.

Since the inception of the College’s Environmental Studies program in 2003, 30 students have selected it as their major. “The program is taking off,” said Roger Thomas, John Williamson Nevin Professor and chair of the Department of Earth & Environment. “There will be a strong demand not only for our core courses, but also for our existing human-environment electives, which explore economics, history, business and literature. New electives in environmental ethics will significantly enrich our curriculum.”

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